As Covid-19 regulations rears its head, Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber does not believe that it would impact or jeopardize the tour. According to Nienaber, the support team and individuals have ensured player welfare has been “magical”, adding that “the tour takes place once every 12 years, so all participants are trying their utmost best to stay virus and Covid free.”
“I cannot see the tour being in jeopardy we are operating within our environment as normal as per regulations as it is Covid,” said Nienber.
With an extremely limited amount of time available; there are only three test matches that would take place before the British & Irish Lions Test, from the start of the selection process, Nienaber based the selection on the best possible available players for the specific match, in order to achieve the desired outcome. A huge selection factor came from players who were coached previously and were in the system, those that were selected would fit into the structure and already know what the expectation for the test had to be.
He mentioned that opportunities to slightly newer players will be given so that a correct informed decision can be made.
Nienaber selected the squad on Saturday and the Covid cases were presented on Sunday, the players immediately went into isolation which presented the opportunity for players like Aphelele Fassi and Jessie Kriel to be part of the team.
Fassi trained at wing with the entire squad during preparation camps and within the squad “he is a very talented player with a massive skill set, he currently plays for his franchise at 15 predominantly. He however slotted into wing beautifully,” says Nienaber . With the guidance of Lukhanyo Am, Jessie Kriel and Willie Le Roux he immediately phased into the team easily.
Handre Pollard spoke to the media on the expectation of test matches and mentioned that the Springboks are prepared for the physical side of the Georgian Test.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and most of us grew up in the squad and we got a lot of inspiration out of that and became professional rugby players because of that and now we sit here with the possibility of facing the Lions and it is very exciting, I can’t explain the excitement is on another level,” said Pollard.
“We will take as much as we can from the tests and learn as much as we can but overall Japan and the Lions played very well.”
Cobus Reinach’s exposure to Montpellier has added an immense amount of experience and what he brings back to the Springbok squad.
“Playing overseas opens your eyes a little bit well especially for me , you get to know different cultures and it takes you out of your comfort zone and you grow as a player there isn’t any words to describe how I am feeling and my team is feeling just to get out there Friday and put up a performance that is worthy,” said Reinach.
The Springboks first test match is set to take place at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Friday, 2 July 2021.
Source : Fatima Said